The Trump’s Pay For Play

Sunday essay


$200,000. what comes to mind when you hear that number? Enough money to put a downpayment on a house, enough to buy most cars, a college fund for your kids, or… the entry fee to Donald Trump’s the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Since Donald Trump was elected president, the entry fee to his Mar-a-Lago resort has doubled from $100,000 to $200,000. Since he was elected president, Donald Trump has spent three weekends in a row there, costing taxpayers an estimated $3 million each time.

Since Trump became president, his resort in Florida has turned into the part-time United States capital. He has hosted foreign dignitaries, most recently Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. When they were at Mar-a-Lago, they responded to the news that North Korea had conducted a missile test in the presence of dinner guests. Aides talked around computers while top advisers strategized a response with them, all in the middle of a dinner with private citizens. The man who criticized Hillary Clinton for compromising national security made an international crisis public in the middle of a dinner.

His resort is like a Washington steakhouse amped up. The roughly 500 members of his club include Wall Street executives, energy tycoons, and other influential industry heads whose businesses could very directly be affected by the White House’s policy.

William Koch, who is is prominent in a major mining and fueling company, is a member of Mar-a-Lago. Billionaire trader Thomas Peterffy is also a member of the resort, he notably ran an $8 million political ad campaign in 2012 about socialism in America.

Another member is George Norcross, who is an insurance leader and the head of the South Jersey Democratic Party. His friendship with Trump can be traced back decades, at a time when Mr. Norcross held insurance contracts with Mr. Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. Janet Weiner is a member of Mar-a-Lago too, she runs is a part owner and Chief Financial Officer of Rockstar Energy drinks.

Bruce Toll is a co-founder of Toll Brothers, which plays a key role in the homebuilding industry, and frequently sees Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago. “Maybe you ought to do this or that,” Mr. Toll said of the advice members give Mr. Trump.

Bernd Lembcke, the Mar-a-Lago managing director, said applications have risen since Mr. Trump won the election. “It enhances it his presidency does,” Mr. Lembcke said, talking about the membership of the club. “People are now more interested in becoming members. But we are very careful in vetting them.”

Mar-a-Lago blurs the lines between the presidency and business, the White House and private residences. It’s a place where the movers and shakers of our economy can whisper in the president’s ear-for $200,000.




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